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New store for The Active Sole

SKYLER BELL, Of the Record staff

An Iron Man race consists of 140.6 miles: 2.4 swimming, 112 cycling and 26.2 running. It’s widely considered one of the most grueling activities in the world.

Scott Wilson and his wife, Sabrina Hiteshew-Wilson, have each run an Iron Man, and both readily compare the race to their newest adventure owning a business in Park City.

"Running a store is very similar to running an Iron Man," said Hiteshew-Wilson about their new shoe store, The Active Sole. "There is so much trepidation in both, but after finishing a triathlon it feels so great and I’m sure it will turn out the same way with the store. Even though there is a lot of stress, it feels great now. We didn’t have a lot of business experience and I’m really proud at how the store turned out."

The pair started doing triathlons five years ago while living on the East Coast and both completed an Iron Man last summer, which they agree was a huge undertaking. Wilson said the experience helped prepare them for owning a business.

"It helped prepare us for running a business because in addition to keeping our full-time jobs, we were trying to find time to train, so we’re used to balancing busy schedules and things like that. Both mean lots of hours and lots of hard work, but both are very rewarding at the end of the day when it all comes together."

The couple got the idea of opening a store from a friend in Baltimore who left the area to open a shoe store and was extremely successful. Although they were both working in the insurance industry at the time, they were able to see the transition done effectively, so they wondered if they could do the same.

They traveled with a group from Utah to watch the Tour de France and after hearing raves about Park City for more than a week, the couple decided to visit.

They first set foot in Park City in November of 2004 and were permanent residents by March of 2005.

"We moved here about two years ago from Baltimore to do the outdoor stuff," Wilson said. "Unlike most people, we moved here for the summers. We felt there was a good market for a shoe store; originally we wanted it to be a running store, but didn’t think there was a big enough market for something that specific, so we decided to open The Active Sole."

After deciding on a platform for the store, the pair needed to find a location. They searched Park City for open spots they felt would suit the business and found one at Redstone that fit like Cinderella’s glass slipper.

"Just looking around town we felt Redstone would give us the mix of local and tourist business that we wanted," Wilson said. "We like the location and layout we’re next to the restaurants and have the movie theater around the corner so people will find us as they’re just walking around waiting for a movie or something like that. It’s perfect for The Active Sole."

Hiteshew-Wilson, who buys the merchandise and decides what to carry, said many people take the name of the store to mean they sell running and athletic shoes when that is not the truth. Although The Active Sole carries a selection of sporty kicks, she described their selection as "on the comfortable side with a little bit of flair."

"Most of the stuff I’m looking for is shoes that people in Park City would want to kick around in," she said. "People here are into comfortable, but also in looking good and getting around."

The brands carried at The Active Sole range from Dansko to Patagonia, and MBT to Salomon.

"We carry several lines you can’t really find anywhere else," Wilson, who runs the day-to-day operations, said. "We specialize in comfort shoes and euro fashion being fashionable, comfortable and active. Some people think because of the name that we are a running store, but we’re not."

The couple chose the slogan "Shoes that fit Park City" because they felt the individuality of Parkites was being underserved in the area. Many were forced to go to Salt Lake or Denver to find the types of shoes that The Active Sole now provides from their Redstone store.

"We wanted to make sure that the shoes we sell fit not only the Park City lifestyle but fit our customers as well," Wilson said. "We were careful to carry lines that aren’t just fashionable but are comfortable. We also want to have a better level of service. We wanted to generate relationships with our customers and make repeat customers."

So far, Wilson said sales have been good, although he’s not sure if the rate of success is due to Christmas, the winter season or just great merchandise.

"We’re still trying to get our bearings," he said. "With Sundance coming up I think we’ll have extended hours and stay open while the movies are going on. We’re also thinking of having a trunk show, which is where a certain line will come in with their reps and bring in more variety than we would normally carry, but we haven’t locked that down yet."

Before opening the store, both Wilson and Hiteshew-Wilson worked in the insurance industry and actually met at work. She grew up in Maryland and attended Shippensburg University to study childhood education, while he grew up in Virginia and attended West Virginia to study political science.

Hiteshew-Wilson has continued to do insurance work from home while Wilson runs the shop.

"It’s been fun but a lot of work, but also a lot of fun," Wilson said. "We’re just learning as we go. Sabrina works from home during the day then comes in here evenings and on the weekends. We just wanted to be knowledgeable and helpful without being high pressure."

The Active Sole is located at 1640 Redstone Center Drive and can be reached at (435) 575-SOLE and info@theactivesole.com. The store is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon-6 p.m.


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